Writings: The Lost Last Princess of Ravelin (Part 6)

Previously posted on my Patreon.


"The regular soldiers who've defected to our side will approach the castle from this direction." Wyrus pushed forward a little scrap of folded parchment on the low table he'd ordered for Meirin's tent. "They'll occupy the troops still loyal to Talatas and will bear the brunt of the attack; Kyne will be stationed with them for healing as needed. Our volunteer militia will flank from this angle with Ereth leading them."

Ereth frowned where he sat on the edge of the cot. "Me? But I've never led troops before."

"You have actual recent combat experience, though, which makes you more capable than men who haven't picked up a sword in twenty years. Keep them pointed in the right direction and they should do fine. We've been drilling them on the march and the training will kick in once battle is joined."

The elven man seemed far from certain about this but nodded as Wyrus pushed another token forward on the table. Meirin resisted the urge to pat Ereth's hand in a reassuring way, instead leaning forward with a thoughtful frown. "Where will I be?" Splitting the party always made her nervous, as adventuring had taught them the hard way what a bad idea that usually was. She liked to stick close to Ereth for protection but didn't relish the idea of leaving Kyne alone, even knowing they could survive on their own.

"You are back here with a reserve of guards," Wyrus told her, tapping a piece she'd thought unused.

Meirin's thoughtful frown deepened as she mentally reviewed the spells she knew which might make her useful in a surprise rush at whatever prearranged signal the spymaster had planned. "Awaiting what?"

"Our victory."

The words were delivered with a bluntness which took her several heartbeats to register. Looking up from the table she blinked at his bland expression. "You expect me to hang back for the entire battle?"

Sighing, the old man steepled his fingers. "You, my dear, are a symbol. Symbols are only useful as long as they live. When they die, or even become wounded, they are a detriment to the cause."

She could feel heat rising to her face. Ereth and Kyne, sitting on either side of her, remained quiet. In the closeness of the tent their silence felt like betrayal, the three of them conspiring to treat her as a fragile doll. "So you will leave unused a powerful and experienced wizard?" she spat at Wyrus, not bothering to disguise her contempt. "We're just going to hope we have enough soldiers to win the field and take the castle?"

His lack of reaction only irritated her further. "Forgive me, your highness, for I had mistakenly believed you to be a mere apprentice. Do you have any spells in your repertoire which can decimate armies?"

"I have-- No," Meirin admitted. Her few offensive spells could only target a handful of people at a time.

"Take down castle walls?"


"Serve as siege weaponry? Create large illusions? Put multitudes to sleep, or charm them to our side?"

Her cheeks burned. "No."

Wyrus remained unruffled. "So your wizardry will not be a game-changer in the battle. Your death, however, most certainly would be. My calculated risk to leave you behind with a protective detail stands."

"At least put me in the back!" The words exploded from her in a rush of anger. "With the archers and the army-wizards loyal to you. They can protect me just as well as a special detail and I can be useful there!"

"Every archer on the field is going to immediately hone in on a crippled girl with curly black hair, your highness," Wyrus pointed out with a weary sigh. "Your appearance is just too well-known and the risk too great." He paused to study her, his expression turning faintly curious. "I must admit, I'm surprised to find you so upset by my battle plan. Have I wounded your pride, oh experienced and powerful wizard?"

"My pride?" The sheer wrongness of the question startled a bark of laughter from her. "You're sitting there calling me a useless cripple to my face and you think I have a shred of pride left? Wyrus, believe me, if I gave any degree of damn what you thought of me, I would've fireballed your face off weeks ago and saved us both a lot of trouble."

"Then why?" Piercing eyes studied her with interest under his bushy old-man eyebrows. "Do you care?"

She blinked at him, taken aback by the understated surprise in his words. "About this cause you've made me the face of? No." Meirin spat the word at him. She found herself wanting to needle him, seeking to provoke a reaction on his old face. "I wish Ceridan had never written that fool song about me--I'm sick of hearing the soldiers sing it on the march, and I can't even tell them how much I hate it--and I wish you'd never been sent to kill me. I resent the way you dragged me into this rebellion of yours, I don't trust that I'll be a better ruler than this Talatas asshole you're betraying, and I find this entire war incredibly stressful."

"Then why not accept a place in the back?" His calm remained annoyingly unruffled. "Soldiers will keep you safe and, if we lose the battle, you'll be well placed to flee. If you desire, I'll even assign Ereth and Kyne to stay with you so the three of you may flee together." He paused for her to agree but Meirin found her tongue was thick in her mouth, unable to answer. "Why fight so hard to be part of a cause you despise?"

"Because!" She tore her gaze away from his eyes and looked between Ereth and Kyne, but the two were watching her with the same studied interest. "I don't care about your cause, but I do care about these people you've recruited to die for me! Yeah, maybe I'm not an experienced wizard who can turn the tide of battle with a single spell, but I can at least try to keep a few people alive. Isn't that enough for you?"

Wyrus tilted his head at her in a way she did not enjoy, as though he were a dog and she a creature which utterly puzzled him. "Yes. Yes, actually, it is."

"So I can join the battle?" She felt oddly defensive even though it seemed she had won this round.

"No." He raised a hand to forestall her objections. "Nor will I stick you in the back to await the conclusion. There is something else which needs doing and which may save the lives you are concerned about."


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